• A Black Lives Matter protest in Brisbane last month. (AAP)Source: AAP
"Sit with us. We just want a seat at the table and have a cuppa tea and a biscuit and have a conversation about how we can better implement these recommendations."
By
Sarah Collard

Source:
NITV News
17 Feb 2021 - 4:12 PM  UPDATED 17 Feb 2021 - 4:12 PM

The family members of First Nations people who have died in custody say they are disappointed the government rejected a call in the senate to meet with them on the anniversary of the Royal Commission into Indigenous Deaths in Custody handing down its findings in 1991.

Latoya Rule's brother, Wayne 'Fella' Morrison died in 2016 just days after an altercation with corrections staff at an Adelaide prison left him brain dead.

Commonwealth urged to meet with families

Rule told NITV News that they felt 'invisible' by the government. Rule is urging the government to work with families and states and territories to prevent First Nations people dying in prisons. 

"It's just a further injustice," Latoya Rule told NITV news. 

"It could have been so inspiring and so incredible for us to meet on that platform of hope and on that platform of action." 

Labor and Greens senators put forward a motion in the senate on Tuesday night urging the Prime Minister to meet with the families of people who have died in custody. 

The motion in the senate called on the government to fully implement the 330 recommendations made by the Royal Commission in 1991. 

Labor senator and former commissioner on the Royal Commission, Patrick Dodson said the government needed to work with families as well as states and territories. 

"It's important that the leadership of the Prime Minister meets with people to hear what they've got to say," Senator Patrick Dodson told NITV News.

"They need to understand their grief and anger and frustration and to reassure them that whatever the government is doing, so they can make a judgement about what the government's doing."

455 First Nations deaths in custody 'unacceptable' 

Mr Dodson said he was  'dismayed' that 455 First Nations people have died in custody since the report came down. 

"We're just going to see this ongoing tragic sad record, which is unacceptable."

Mr Dodson, the single Indigenous commissioner on the landmark inquiry said little had changed in the 30 years since the Royal Commission made its recommendations. 

"We've not only got large numbers of adults in custody. We've got an increasing rate of women in custody and increasing rate of children in detention," Mr Dodson said. 

Troy Jungaji Brady said those in the highest office of government should hear directly from the families of those who have lost family members while they were in custody. 

"Sit with us. We just want a seat at the table and have a cuppa tea and a biscuit and have a conversation about how we can better implement these recommendations," Mr Brady told NITV News. 

Mr Brady's Aunty Sherry Tilberoo died in September 2020 at a Brisbane watch house. Her death was not suspicious but an officer was stood down after failing to provide adequate care while the 49-year-old was detained.

"We lost our beloved Aunty Sherry. It's a sad time... It just appears that it's getting worse."

"It should be above politics," said Roxanne Moore, executive officer of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (NATSILS).

"It's really deeply upsetting and disappointing that the government has voted against this motion to meet with the families ahead of the 30 year anniversary of the Royal Commission," she told NITV News. 

The Noongar woman said there had been six Indigenous people die in custody since widespread Black Lives Matter protests highlighted First Nations deaths in the country. 

"This is an ongoing injustice for our people and it's one of the greatest human rights' injustices in this country."

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